Young riders kicked off Grand Prix Sunday with 72 entries contesting Oscar Soberon’s first round course of the $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix. Eleven riders went fault-free to advance to the jump-off where international talent finished atop the podium today with Maria Brugal (DOM) leading the way on her own J’Adore Flamenco.

Twelfth to go in the starting order, Brian Moggre (USA) found the first clear path with Stevie Macken’s Nobel S. They led the way in the jump-off with a smooth effort in 48.04 seconds, which would ultimately land them in the fifth-place position. Zoe Conter of Belgium was next to challenge in the jump-off, quickening the pace with Natan van’t Laarhof in 47.62 seconds, good enough for third place. Shortly after, yesterday’s Welcome winner Tom Wachman (IRL) stormed around the short course in 46.19 seconds, this time aboard Coolmore Show Jumping’s Lazarro delle Schiave. The riders that followed tried to catch Wachman’s time, but at the expense of a jumping fault.

It was Brugal who managed to shave a couple hundredths of a second off of Wachman’s time for the win in 46.17 seconds with J’Adore Flamenco.

Brugal has been paired with “Sparky,” a 10-year-old Selle Français gelding by Je T’aime Flamenco x Corofino 2, for about a year, working on bringing him along into bigger classes in a relaxed manner.

“I actually set myself a goal to go fast now, because in the jump-offs before, I would be very cautious to just give him a positive experience, and I guess I did it today!” said Brugal.

Sparky’s scope and ability results in some extra air time over the fences, which has made chasing the winning time harder for Brugal.

“I think today I just really let go and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to go for it, and if I have a rail or whatever, it’s fine,’” she explained. “My horse jumps really big into double [combinations], and usually I have to get in a little bit slow, but I kind of just kept going and kept going, and he was absolutely perfect backing off from it. I trusted him, and I’m really happy with him.”

Second place finisher Wachman just took over the ride on Lazarro delle Schiave, a 13-year-old Italian Sport Horse by Acodetto 2 x Gluecksgriff, from his brother Max. He utilized the gelding’s large stride in his attempt to run away with the class.

“The jump-off suited me because it was so spread out. I had a good plan with the numbers, and it all came up, so it worked out,” commented Wachman.

Despite Wachman’s short time with his new partner, he knew he could depend on Lazzaro delle Schiave.

“My horse is a bit older now, so he’s experienced. He’s been to a lot of shows and a lot of grass shows, so it’s not really a problem for him, and he’s actually better on grass,” noted Wachman.

Conter was less confident in her mount, but the nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Epleaser van’t Heike rose to the occasion.

“Yesterday, I didn’t know how he was going to react because he’s a quite spooky horse, but he also grew out here,” reflected Conter. “He was actually much better than I could have expected, so that turned out very well.”

Conter has had “Natan” since he was six years old when she got him from a farmer in Belgium. Their lengthy partnership has made him very special to Conter, so she’s excited to try to move him up the levels as the season continues and take a crack at the Under 25 series with some of her younger horses.

“I’m actually excited for the [U25] series,” said Conter. “I’ve been doing the series for a few years now, and especially since we’re off to a great start, it’s nice to keep going.”

All three riders agreed that the diverse pool of equine and human talent coupled with large, technical courses makes the Under 25 division a challenge. Even so, they also all agreed that it makes for an exciting series.

“I think it’s a brilliant series, especially for me. I can’t do a three-star grand prix until next year, because of the age rule,” explained Wachman.

Brugal added, “It’s a great step up from the 1.40m level, and it’s a very nice in between.”

Conter agreed, “It’s super competitive. It really challenges you. It only gets bigger and bigger, so it’s definitely a good series to have especially for us young riders.”

Final Results: $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix

1. J’ADORE FLAMENCO: 2012 Selle Français gelding by Je T’aime Flamenco x Corofino 2
MARIA BRUGAL (DOM), Maria Brugal: 0/0/46.17

2. LAZZARO DELLE SCHIAVE: 2009 Italian Sport Horse gelding by Acodetto 2 x Gluecksgriff
TOM WACHMAN (IRL), Coolmore Show Jumping: 0/0/46.19

3. NATAN VAN’T LAARHOF: 2013 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Epleaser van’t Heike
ZOE CONTER (BEL), Stephex Stables: 0/0/47.62

4. ICEMAN DE MUZE: 2008 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Erco van’t Roosakker x For Pleasure
ELLI YEAGAR (USA), Elli Yeagar: 0/0/47.75

5. NOBEL S: 2013 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Cantario
BRIAN MOGGRE (USA), Stevie Macken: 0/0/48.04

6. CARLOTTA 289: 2011 Holsteiner mare by Clarimo x Carthago Z
AVA DE CASTER (USA), Bay Winds Equestrian LLC: 0/0/49.83

7. CORALISSA: 2010 Holsteiner mare by Com Air x San Patrignano Corrado
SAM WALKER (CAN), Marbill Hill Farm: 0/4/45.17

8. H5 CHACCO-SAN: 2011 Hanoverian gelding by Chacco-Blue x Sandro Boy
CARLOS HANK GUERREIRO (MEX), H5 Sport Horses LLC: 0/4/45.99

9. QUICK BOB: 2012 Holsteiner gelding by Q-Verdi x Cassini II
SOPHIA AHEARN (USA), Esperanza Imports LLC: 0/4/47.74

10. LOOPING LUNA: 2014 Hanoverian mare by Lord Fauntleroy x Calido I
RICHARD VOGEL (GER), Horse Management GMBH: 0/4/49.80